Cinderella: Review

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s interpretation of the classic ballet impresses Simon Hale.

From the celestial backdrop to the glittering costumes and sparkling dancing, Birmingham Royal Ballet’s production of Cinderella beams with star quality. No less so than in the John Macfarlane designs which brilliantly evoke both the prison-like kitchen in which our heroine is forced to work as a skivvy and the glittering palace ballroom where guests revel in the richest 18th century dress.

Momoko Hirata dances the title role to David Bintley’s choreography with a fragile subservience in the face of a cash-strapped step-family led by the peerless Marion Tait who, like a Cruella de Vil, is able to convey evil with just the roll of her eyes.

The stepsisters Skinny and Dumpy, danced by Samara Downs and Laura Purkiss (the latter well padded) deliver comic gusto between the misery, squabbling as much between themselves as goading Cinderella. When the kind-hearted orphan gives the one reminder of her mother – a pair of her dancing slippers – to a poor woman in rags our pity for her reaches new heights.

This is the cue for Cinderella to have her life given back to her by a fairy godmother (Yvette Knight) who takes her into a magical world where the Seasons dress her and liveried animals transport her by a magnificent coach to the ball. Comedy and romance combine as the stepsisters slapstick their way to trying to gain the attention of the handsome Prince (Joseph Caley). He of course has eyes only for the transformed Cinderella looking confident and radiant in her beautiful cream tutu and sparkling tiara.

Hirata and Caley dance exquisitely to the slightly dissonant Prokofiev score in a waltz that becomes scarier as a giant clock begins the famous midnight chimes. The quest to find the owner of the shoe that Cinderella has left behind takes us back to the real world of the kitchen. Even though we all know the outcome, the pair convey an overwhelming sense that they were meant for each other.

As the corps de ballet dance beautifully as stars celebrating the match, Hirota and Caley look the perfect lovers as they head off to a heavenly ending. With the Royal Ballet Sinfonia in outstanding form under its conductor Philip Ellis, this unmissable show is a sparkling treat for all the family.

Cinderella is in production until Sunday, February 26th. Tickets